The Diary of a Pro Player – PT Oath of the Gatewatch Testing, Early Stages

When I was younger I always wished I could’ve watched a reality show of Magic pros. Technically, is close to what I had in mind, but not exactly. I wanted to see what it’s like to live the life of a full-time Magic: the Gathering Pro player—what are they thinking going into a tournament, what’s their preparation like, and how do they approach new sets?

Turns out I became one of them. Today I bring you the closest analog to what I wanted. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I won’t be writing about what I had for breakfast or my love life. If you are actually interested in deeper activities of my life, I suggest you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, though be aware that I post in French from time to time.

In case you don’t know me, here’s a short background:

I’m 22 years old and I live in Quebec City, Canada. I started playing when I was 11 years old (Fifth Dawn release), I was immediately drawn by the competitive aspect of the game and played my first PTQ the following year (Kamigawa Block Constructed).

It took me 5 years of PTQ grinding to finally get on the Pro Tour—I qualified by making the Canadian National Team. The World Championship in Chiba, Japan was my debut and actually my lone good result at a Pro Tour. I’ve played 13 out of 17 possible Pro Tours since then.

My highlights include:

  • Winning 4 PTQs in a row.
  • 3 GP Top 8s in a row (got cheated for Top 8 in the 4th).
  • Having extreme hot streaks in results.
  • Picking a foil Tarmogoyf at GP Vegas.
  • Having a personal life narrator (Alexander Hayne)
  • Showing up at every post-tournament party.
  • Currently a Gold Pro.

Hopefully this column, plus what Paul Cheon is doing, will fulfill your Magic Pro life cravings!

Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch

Pro Tours approaching are my favorite times of the year. Another shot at $40,000 (That’s $57,000 Canadian!), a new set, and more than a week traveling and meeting up with friends for an intense week of testing.

The tension really gets on when the full spoiler is out. There’s no time for excitement any more, every day counts, and there’s a new Limited format to learn, so it’s all business. There usually is a new Standard format to break as well—except that once a year we get to play Modern. I wish I could just play the deck I know the best (Twin), but with the changes announced this weekend, that will have to change.

My testing process for the upcoming Pro Tour is different than usual. Instead of teaming up with a select group of players from week one until the tournament, we have a Facebook group with 15 members that I will use as a way to share and receive Limited data among all of our local groups. Ben Friedman, Alex Majlaton, and Jarvis Yu are a few of the more notable members.

I initially wanted to test alone as I find Modern to be too wide a format for closed group playtesting. I’d rather play against a wide variety of players and decks on Magic Online or in tournaments.


Through my multiple Modern videos, I’m preparing by playing as many decks as possible, mainly with those I have no experience with, so I know how to beat them. Along the way, I eliminate those I don’t expect to play at the PT at all. UR Twin was my frontrunner, but now I’ll need to find something else.

I will also be meeting with Ricky Chin (PT Battle for Zendikar Top 8 competitor) and another local in both Mexico City for the Grand Prix and the week leading up to the Pro Tour in Atlanta for some hardcore 24/7 Magic Online.

Oath of the Gatewatch Options for Modern

This is my list of cards I find playable in Modern. I’m somewhat disappointed that there are so many—I have to build real life Modern decks and test since they won’t be on Magic Online until it’s too late. I’m also scared that testing real-life Modern will lead to inbreeding as there are so many archetypes and variants of those archetypes, however, I just want to get a feel for those cards and see if they are actually playable. I’ve already played with some of them, here are my thoughts:

  • Oath of Nissa is a sweet addition to any BGx deck. I’ve found it’ll be hard to play more than 3 without decreasing too your planeswalker/creature/land ratio too much. Initial thinking was to cut a land (black source), a Liliana of the Veil, and a Scavenging Ooze. You get a little card selection and an enchantment for your Tarmogoyfs. I could see arguments for not playing them, especially if your list is instant/sorcery heavy, but otherwise it was fairly good.
  • Kozilek, the Great Distortion is better than Ulamog against all in combo decks such as Burn and Goryo’s Vengeance—those where Ulamog wasn’t quite enough to seal the deal. I don’t think it’s better overall, but I want to have access to one in any deck featuring tutors, especially Eye of Ugin.
  • Thought-Knot Seer is one of the best cards in the set. Add Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin to the mix and we’ve got ourselves a Modern playable. It’s obviously an inclusion for the Eldrazi deck, where adds previously lacking synergy and disruption, however it’s important to make sure we have something that produces colorless in play. I cut a few Swamps from the mono-black version in favor of black painlands, a Cavern of Souls, and a Tomb of the Spirit Dragon.

I will be playing more Modern with those cards this week as well, and should be able to report some findings next week!

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